U.S. Committing $44 Million to Women’s Empowerment Initiatives
By Stephen Kaufman
Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the Obama administration will commit nearly $44 million for women’s empowerment initiatives around the world to advance U.N. Security Council goals of integrating women into international peace and security efforts.
Speaking at the Security Council in New York October 26 ( http://www.america.gov/st/texttrans-english/2010/October/20101026152400su0.3725353.html ), Clinton said the largest portion of the U.S. funding — $17 million — will support civil society groups in Afghanistan that focus on women. Women in Afghanistan, she said, are “rightly worried that in the very legitimate search for peace their rights will be sacrificed.”
The secretary was referring to efforts by the Afghan government and the Taliban to engage in reconciliation talks. Under Taliban rule, women faced oppressive treatment.
Clinton said U.N. member states cannot permit Afghan women to lose their rights. “No peace that sacrifices women’s rights is a peace we can afford to support,” she said.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, which was adopted in October 2000, marked the first time the Security Council required people in conflict areas to respect women’s rights and to support the essential role that women play in peacemaking and ending sexual violence in conflicts.
The secretary said that through the resolution, the international community “promised that women would be treated as agents of peace and reconciliation, not just as victims of war and violence.”
Including the full participation of women in resolving conflicts is not merely “a nice thing to do,” Clinton said, but actually “a necessary global security imperative” that promotes stability, economic growth and respect for human rights.
“Just as in the economic sphere we cannot exclude the talents of half the population, neither when it comes to matters of life and death can we afford to ignore, marginalize and dismiss the very direct contributions that women can and have made,” she said.
The secretary said $14 million of the new U.S. commitment will be given to nongovernmental organizations that are trying to increase the availability of clean water in conflict zones, saying that in those areas “when women and girls go looking for water they are at higher risk of being attacked.”
She also said $11 million “will help expand literacy, job training and maternal health services for refugee women and girls,” and $1.7 million will help fund U.N. activities, including those of Margot Wallström, the special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict.
In addition, Clinton said, the Obama administration will develop a National Action Plan to track the progress of Resolution 1325’s implementation within the United States.
“We will measure whether women are effectively represented in the full range of peace-building and reconstruction efforts, whether they are protected against sexual violence and whether they are the focus of conflict prevention, relief and reconciliation efforts,” she said.
“Measuring our progress will help ourselves be held accountable and identify those areas where we need to do more,” the secretary said.
Clinton said the mass rapes that recently occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo ( http://www.america.gov/st/africa-english/2010/August/20100826144101esnamfuak0.718075.html ) (DRC) serve as a stark reminder that much more work is needed to advance women’s rights.
“Those rapes and our failure as an international community to bring that conflict to an end and to protect women and children in the process stands as a tragic rebuke to our efforts thus far,” she said.
Although the United States is providing $17 million for medical and legal services for the survivors of gender-based violence in the DRC, “unfortunately, there is not yet the will, either in DRC itself or in the U.N. or in the international community, to help bring about an end to impunity,” she said.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)